I just got back from a conference at Princeton University and I was completely blown away by the beauty of the campus. The grounds feature many different architectural styles, but the overwhelming number of beautiful graystone Gothic buildings was what impressed me most.
Walking around the campus made me remember how much I always wanted a PhD from an ivy league university. Then I remembered I’d probably have to take the GRE 15 times to get a Princeton-worthy score. I also remembered that there’s no subject I like enough to want to write a 200-page dissertation about it. And even if I could stand to write a dissertation, what then? What would a PhD possibly allow me to do that I can’t do already?
Once I had talked myself out of getting a Princeton PhD, I stopped by the university bookstore and spotted a brown T-shirt with Princeton spelled out in orange, collegiate-style letters. In that moment, I wondered if I could become the first student in history to pursue an ivy league PhD based solely on the appeal of the university’s branded apparel. Is that shallow? Sure, but if I’m going to devote four years of my life to a degree that’s mostly for show, I’ll need to remind people of my intellectual superiority as often as possible and I’ll need to look good while doing it. I hate maroon, so Harvard’s out. Forest green does nothing for my pasty complexion, so there goes Dartmouth. Cobalt and Navy blue are far too common, so that eliminates U Penn and Yale. (I don’t want anyone to spot me from across the room and think I went to Duke, for heaven’s sake!) Of course, there’s always Brown University with its namesake signature color, but I refused to support an institution whose founders believed brown should be paired with Coca-Cola red. Columbia’s bluish-purple or Cornell’s fire-engine red might work when I need a gym outfit that says, “I’m thinner AND smarter than you.”
Yet, in the end, there’s just no substitute for Princeton orange. Now if I could only find a subject in which I could feign an all-consuming interest for several years and compose an admissions essay that makes no mention of my admiration for Princeton’s wonderful selection of well-designed hoodies, T-shirts, and sweatpants. In the mean time, I plan to keep myself motivated by repeatedly trying on my Princeton tee until I’m convinced it looks appropriate enough to wear on Oprah. However, unlike Kirstie Alley, I won’t make things more awkward by incorporating a flowing silk remnant from the clearance bin at JoAnn Fabrics. If that fails, I’ll just steal one or two of Bill Cosby’s honorary doctorates, assuming he wasn’t already stripped of them when he started doing commercials for Jell-O brand pudding snacks.